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Posts Tagged ‘what heaven will be like’

Each year Solomon received about 25 tons of gold.  This did not include the additional revenue he received from merchants and traders. All the kings of Arabia and the governors of the provinces also brought gold and silver to Solomon.

King Solomon made 200 large shields of hammered gold, each weighing more than 15 pounds.  He also made 300 smaller shields of hammered gold, each weighing more than 7½ pounds. The king placed these shields in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.

Then the king made a huge throne, decorated with ivory and overlaid with pure gold.  The throne had six steps, with a footstool of gold. There were armrests on both sides of the seat, and the figure of a lion stood on each side of the throne.  There were also twelve other lions, one standing on each end of the six steps. No other throne in all the world could be compared with it!

All of King Solomon’s drinking cups were solid gold, as were all the utensils in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. They were not made of silver, for silver was considered worthless in Solomon’s day!

The king had a fleet of trading ships manned by the sailors sent by Hiram. Once every three years the ships returned, loaded with gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.

So King Solomon became richer and wiser than any other king on earth.  Kings from every nation came to consult him and to hear the wisdom God had given him.  Year after year everyone who visited brought him gifts of silver and gold, clothing, weapons, spices, horses, and mules.

Solomon had 4,000 stalls for his horses and chariots, and he had 12,000 horses.  He stationed some of them in the chariot cities, and some near him in Jerusalem.  He ruled over all the kings from the Euphrates River in the north to the land of the Philistines and the border of Egypt in the south.  The king made silver as plentiful in Jerusalem as stone. And valuable cedar timber was as common as the sycamore-fig trees that grow in the foothills of Judah.  Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and many other countries.  2 Chronicles 9:13-28

There are no notes for today’s passage, so I’m just going to ramble.  There are several things that come to mind when I read this scripture passage.  First, the wealth of King Solomon is absolutely astounding.  I can’t even think of a country today that would surpass him.  Maybe I’m glorifying his wealth a bit, but to me, it doesn’t seem that it would be the case.  Partly, my mind says that it is impossible for any other kingdom to be as wealthy as King Solomon was because God blessed him abundantly. 

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom.  So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have!  And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life!  And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”  1 Kings 3:10-14

The description of Solomon’s possessions and even the throne is magnificent to think about.  Just imagine his throne!  The description of it makes the one in movies seem small an insignificant!  I don’t know, maybe it is because we know that this is real.  Can you imagine the tribute paid both in riches and respect that Solomon received by all the kings of the world?  I can’t.  Garnering that kind of power is simply unfathomable these days.  All this makes me marvel at Jesus comment, Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  Luke 12:27  What a statement to try and comprehend. 

First of all, I think that we consider gold and possessions of far more value and beauty than lilies or any flower for that matter.  What can we take away from that?  Scriptures say that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  Is it that we treasure these things, when we should really treasure the things of God?  Think about it.  If Jesus said that the lilies were far more glorious than Solomon, something unscathed by human hand, and made by the perfect God, shouldn’t we be more focused on what God has made as a standard of beauty?  I’m just wondering.  It seems to me that if we focus on God, His kingdom and all therein, our viewpoint would change drastically, including our standard of beauty. 

It kind of makes you wonder what heaven will be like doesn’t it?  Think about it, if there were no glittering, shiny things, would we consider it beautiful?  Look at the marvels of the world, to me, those are so awe inspiring, so astounding that you can’t even begin to take it in with just one visit.  This is God’s beauty.  What would heaven look like?  I simply can’t wait to see.  Yes, scripture does say there will be gold and glittering things, but I can’t wait to see what isn’t glittering and gold.  That will be absolutely spectacular!

It is hard to imagine Solomon’s glory, but even harder to imagine the glory of heaven or of Jesus Himself.  But it is fun to think about it sometimes.  It certainly whets the taste buds for home doesn’t it? 

Now, let’s change pace just a little bit.  How can we apply this to our lives?  The most obvious one to me is to ‘not judge a book by it’s cover.’  How often do we not interact with another person because of what we see on the outside?  Or, conversely, how often do we clamour for people that appear wealthy?  Everyone wants to be near people that seem to have it all, they seem to have all their ducks in a row so to speak?  The glamorous life is not the life of glory, don’t confuse the two.  All to often, I read articles or headlines about how ‘down to earth’ such and such famous person is.  I can’t escape the thought, ‘It is nice that they are down to earth, but do they know Jesus.’  They could have all the money in the world, and if they don’t know Jesus, they are still the poorest among us.  Now, on to the other side again, the poorest people of the world very often know Jesus and therefore become the richest.  It is true, look at Solomon.  Over time, as he accumulated wives, his wives led him from worshiping God only to worshiping God along with other gods.  He went from the richest man in every way to being poor in his relationship with God. 

Don’t think for a minute that the cares of this life, the wealth of this world don’t pull you away from our loving Savior.  They do and they do it in the most indiscernable ways at times.  So we go out and buy the newest TV.  We just bought one a few years ago, but this one is already not as good as the newest models.  I can justify spending my money on this.  Where is the problem with this thought?  The simple answer is we are never satisfied and will continually seek happiness where we will never find it.  Next, we aren’t being good stewards of the money that God has given us.  Also, we are putting our own wants in front of the needs of others. 

If our priorities are straight, then God receives the glory and in turn, He shines His glory on us and we reflect it to the world around us.  That is the most important thing, to share God with those we come in contact with. 

Well, I truly am rambling, I better stop while I’m ahead.

Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24  I give my body to You because of all You have done for me.  Let my body be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind You will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship You.  I won’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but I will let You transform me into a new person by changing the way I think.  Then I will learn to know Your will for me, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Romans 12:1-2  Amen.

May God provide the increase.

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That same day Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. They posed this question:  “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name.’ Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children, so his brother married the widow.  But the second brother also died, and the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them.  Last of all, the woman also died.  So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.”

Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.  For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven.

“But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead—haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’  So he is the God of the living, not the dead.”

When the crowds heard him, they were astounded at his teaching.  Matthew 22:23-33

Well, I’m back!  What a whirlwind of a vacation.  It hardly seemed like a vacation partly because we were there for such a brief time and the drive was so long.  It took 30 hours straight driving there and back!  Whew!  That is enough to make me tired just thinking about it.  Just to let you know, I went to Las Vegas – nicknamed ‘Sin City’ for a very good reason.

I learned some things in that place of desolation these past few days!  God is so good!  A couple of things hit me square between the eyes about me and my husband.  As I walked around town, I realized that not one man turned my head and in fact I didn’t even look.  I saw several people – men and women – that were from his part of the world, and all I could think about was how attracted I still am to my husband.  (That is such welcoming thought to me!) 

As I walked around the town, I realized that I already am what my husband wants in a wife, he’s just too blind to see it.  He is still clinging to the things of this world when he wants me to be like the women that walked around with make-up on, hair done and sensual clothing.  That I will never be, and I never have been.  Those women are comfortable in their skin, so to speak.  I am not and never have been.  There is more than what is on the outside – no matter what gender you are.  When the focus is on the outside, then what you see is only skin deep.  Men wanted to attract women and women wanted to entice men.  It was a vicious circle.  And I have never really desired to be caught up in it.  Yet there I was, right in the center of it.  

My husband wants a self-possessed righteous woman.  I don’t know if I will ever ‘flaunt’ anything about my physical beauty – that is simply not me, but when it comes to the things that really matter, I do possess those qualities.  He simply isn’t looking through the right lens when he looks at me!

To tell you the truth, I was more fascinated with the buildings than pretty much anything out there.  People were everywhere, crawling all over each other.  It simply was amazing and so very sad.  The debaucherous nature of that city is enough to make any Christian want to cry!  When you are there, walking down the streets, you can easily imagine the time of Noah and the flood or the time of the tower of Babel … people reveling in their own beauty, in their idols of gold, in their own might and intelligence.  As the world changes more and more and even the small towns become filled with self-revelry like this, how can one not believe the end times are near?

Okay, sorry for that rabbit trail, how ’bout some notes?  But first, let’s talk about spiritual blindness…Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.  There is only one way to see and that is through study of the scriptures,inviting Jesus in and accepting the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  I often have to sit back and examine my thoughts and feelings about this very thing.  ‘Am I doing right?’ ‘Do I not understand You, Lord?’ ‘What am I doing wrong?’ etc.  So, how can we tell whether we are making a mistake because we don’t understand the scriptures?  One obvious way is to assess others responses to your statements.  If you discuss the bible and your interpretations with other Christians, they are a great meter for your true understanding of God’s Word.  And don’t discuss with people you know, be open to discussing God’s Word on the drop of a dime.  When you can talk about God with complete strangers, many times you will be affirmed by God if you are thinking in line with His will or you will be convicted that you don’t quite understand as much as you thought you did.  In either case, this type of mistake is easily corrected by God if we are open and willing to listen to Him through our conversations with others.

Now on to the notes…

Note on verse 23ff

After the Pharisees and supporters of Herod had failed to trap Jesus, the Sadducees smugly stepped in to try.  They did not believe in the resurrection because the Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy) has no direct teaching on it.  The Pharisees had never been able to come up with a convincing argument from the Pentateuch for the resurrection, and the Sadducees thought they had trapped Jesus for sure.  But Jesus was about to show them otherwise (see 22:31, 32 for Jesus’ answer).

How do you try to explain an idea or principle when someone is stuck on ‘direct teaching from the Bible?’  An issue like this came up between my husband and me a few weeks ago.  In Deuteronomy 24:1-4 it discusses divorce.  In this passage, the man can divorce the wife.  If she remarries and then the second husband divorces her, the first husband cannot remarry her.  In our discussion, I told my husband that I was committed to him even in divorce and the only time I would not be allowed to remarry him is if he were to remarry and the divorce the other woman.  He said that this scripture did not apply to him, only to me because the husband divorced the woman, not the other way around. 

It is interesting, but extremely frustrating, to hear my husbands convoluted ideas about scripture.  He is a master at twisting things to suit his whims, wants and desires.  I know that we all suffer from this, but it seems that he is a master at it.  And the above is a case in point.  It frustrates me that he can’t seem to understand how principle applies to him even if it doesn’t directly say it.  Am I wrong in my interpretation?  If I am, please make it known to me. 

Note on verse 24

The law said that when a woman’s husband died without having a son, the man’s brother had a responsibility to marry and care for the widow (Deuteronomy 25:5,6).  This law protected women who were left alone, because in that culture they usually had no other means to support themselves.

Note on verses 29, 30

The Sadducees asked Jesus what marriage would be like in heaven.  Jesus said it was more important to understand God’s power than know what heaven will be like.  In every generation and culture, ideas of eternal life tend to be based on images and experiences of present life.  Jesus answered that these faulty ideas are caused by ignorance of God’s Word.  We must not make up our own ideas about eternity and heaven by thinking of it and God in human terms.  We should concentrate more on our relationship with God than about what heaven will look like.  Eventually we will find out, and it will be far beyond our greatest expectations.

This is one of my favorite topics!  There are two thoughts here really, but essentially they are the same.  I can’t imagine what heaven will be like.  I don’t even want to try, mostly because I know that I could never do it justice.  I’ve been to the Grand Canyon.  I’ve seen the ‘big trees’ in northern California – the Redwoods and in southern California – the giant Sequoias.  I’ve been in the Rockies and the Appalachians via the Smokey Mountains.  I’ve seen the Great Lakes.  I’ve seen the start of the Mississippi and the delta where it dumps into the Gulf of Mexico.  I’ve cruised in the Gulf, visited both the Atlantic shoreline and the Pacific shoreline.  I’ve seen the desert, the grasslands, the ranch lands etc.  I’ve been in the dark caves of glorious treasures.  I’ve seen pictures from all over the world of God’s handiwork.  These things are immense, these natural wonders.  I’ve even seen pictures from outer space. 

To try and wrap my finite mind around what God has created heaven to be is crazy.  I could never have imagined the Grand Canyon if God hadn’t have made it first.  I wouldn’t know the beauty of being in the desert, staring at a snow-capped mountain in the distance if God didn’t think of it first.  How can I limit Him to what I already know by what He has already made.  Based on what I have seen, I can expect to see even greater things than these in heaven!  That is the only sure thing that I know and the only thing I look forward to about the immensity of God’s heaven.  It is great knowing that God has a surprise for me when I get there.  I like surprises.  And I’m sure it will be unlike anything I have ever seen, experienced or imagined.  I can’t wait.

Now, to the other part of this note.  What is my relationship to such a powerful God?  I am the created being and He is my creator.  It is that simple.  I stand in fear and awe of Him, He loves me.  Because He loved me first, I love Him.  I worship Him, He provides for me.  I proclaim Him, He strengthens me.  I absolutely love the last stanza of a hymn we sometimes sing at church, it says it all …

Jesus! my shepherd, husband friend,
   My prophet, priest, and king,
My Lord, my life, my way, my end!
   Accept the praise I bring.

Note on verses 31, 32

Because the Sadducees accepted only the Pentateuch as God’s divine Word, Jesus answered them from the book of Exodus (3:6).  God would not have said, “I am the God of your ancestors – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” if God thought of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as dead.  From God’s perspective, they are alive.  Jesus’ use of the present tense pointed to the resurrection and the eternal life that all believers enjoy in him.

This issue of God transcending time is so hard to grasp and even harder to explain.  God lives in the past, present and future at any given time, all the time.  That is as neatly as I can say it without stumbling over my words.  He is a God of the living.  Doesn’t that make you feel good?

I would also make one last point, Jesus uses scripture correctly to support His answer.  How often do I misinterpret the Word in order to justify my opinions and thoughts?  To deny that I misinterpret would be like saying I was God.  So, anytime that I err, please bring it to my attention so we can discuss.  I know that I don’t have a perfect understanding of God’s Word.  I know that my knowledge is limited.  But, I can express what I know and feel comfortable about it because I know that God reveals to each of us when and what He wants to reveal to us.  As we grow in Him, He gives us more understanding. 

That’s all for today.  Tomorrow, I have an all day engagement and most likely will not find the time to write.  I will try to get something posted, but you may have to wait a day until Wednesday before I can get back to this.  Have a blessed day!

 Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24  I give my body to You because of all You have done for me.  Let my body be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind You will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship You.  I won’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but I will let You transform me into a new person by changing the way I think.  Then I will learn to know Your will for me, which is good and pleasing and perfect.  Romans 12:1-2  Amen.

May God provide the increase.

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Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead.  They posed this question: “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife but no children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name.  Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children.  So the second brother married the widow, but he also died.  Then the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them, who died without children.  Finally, the woman also died.  So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her!” Jesus replied, “Marriage is for people here on earth.  But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage.  And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection.

“But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—even Moses proved this when he wrote about the burning bush. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, he referred to the Lord as ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’  So he is the God of the living, not the dead, for they are all alive to him.”

“Well said, Teacher!” remarked some of the teachers of religious law who were standing there.  And then no one dared to ask him any more questions.  Luke 20:27-40

Both yesterday’s and today’s scripture passages had some really good notes to accompany them, but I chose not to type them in yesterday and today, I’m not sure whether I will or won’t…we’ll see. 

Generally, when reading this, most people take away from it, ‘use scripture to answer the tough questions.’  This is true for God’s word never changes and it is the foundation and basis for life.  And because ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,’ (Hebrews 13:8) then His Word is also ‘same yesterday, today and forever.’  With that understanding then, as Jesus used scripture to refute the Sadducees, so we can use scripture to do likewise.  Jesus rightly answered the underlying question/dilemma that the Sadducees put before Him.  Jesus discerned their true meaning and motive.

Well, that isn’t what I want to talk about today.  Jesus made this comment when He initially answered the Sadducees, Marriage is for people here on earth.  But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage.  And they will never die again. In this respect they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection. 

What does that mean?  Here He outright says, we will be like the angels, children of God.  This means that the dynamic and intricacy of our life relationships that we hold here on earth will not be the same in eternity.  Think about it, how often does scripture demonstrate our relationship with God as if we are the bride and He is the groom?  So, our marriages here, though we will recognize our partners, will not be viewed in the same light there.  We will have the ultimate singleness of heart and yearn only for our God.  Our sibling relationships will not be the same either because we are joint-heirs with Jesus.  Our parental relationships will also take on a different perspective because God will be our Father. 

“Marriage is for people here on earth.”  I suppose that I take some small comfort in this sentence.  When I think about the brevity of life, I realize that all the hardships that I face in my marriage are like the blink of an eye and then eternity will set in and I will truly be married to the “man of my dreams.”  Jesus will be all I ever need, as He should be now, I just get in the way of that. 

I don’t often dwell on thoughts of heaven.  I want to be wowed beyond consciousness.  I know that God has made heaven a place beyond my comprehension.  I know that He has done things in heaven that I can’t even begin to imagine.  I know that all of my assumptions, my understanding, my ideas, my convictions are going to appear so infinitesimal and smaller than the smallest known particle compared to what God has in store for us.  This scripture passage assures me of that.  All my preconceived notions of what heaven will be like, are like fine dust because I really can’t even begin to understand the vast greatness of God.  Jesus said that our relationships won’t be the same here as there.  If I can’t comprehend that, even though He outright said it, then how can I even begin to comprehend any other changes that will be? 

John describes his vision of the New Jerusalem in Revelations.  (The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass.  Revelation 21:21)  Even in his description – which is much more than this one sentence – I can’t even comprehend…how can pure gold be as clear as glass?  And all of the newer versions either say “clear as glass,” “clear as crystal,” or “as transparent glass.”  So, if I can’t even comprehend what the scriptures outright tell me, how can I even begin to imagine what it will be like.  I just simply can’t.  I am overwhelmed just thinking about thinking about it.  Instead, I want to be like the little child enveloped in the ‘magic of the moment’ when I first encounter Disney World … or something like that.  That precious ‘awe struck look’ that only a small child can seem to master at every new leaf that is turned.  That is what I want to feel when I reach heaven, and that is what I will feel, because I just know that I can’t even in my wildest dreams begin to know or understand what Jesus has in store for us there.

And it all comes back to today’s scripture and other scriptures like it, Jesus has said that it won’t be like what we know and are accustomed to.  When you get right down to it, we only know a life and a world that has been marred with sin.  We don’t really know what perfection looks like.  Our marriages, though a symbol of one aspect of our relationship with Jesus is nothing like what our relationship with Jesus will be.  We can only glimpse what it should be and yet we will never fully comprehend until that day that Jesus takes us back with Him to the marriage supper.  Paul said it well in 1 Corinthians 13:12 Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

I take away from scriptures like these that I just simply don’t know.  For all that I think I know, all that I think that I understand, doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when it comes down to what will be when Jesus comes again and all will stand in the light of perfection.  My marriage isn’t perfect.  My life isn’t perfect.  The choices that I’ve made are far from perfect.  I don’t understand why I suffer from such hardships.  I don’t understand why I tend to be a little more emotional than others.  But, I know that even though I try to live my life by the convictions that I hold, they too aren’t perfect.  I make mistakes, I fall down and get back up and try again.  In heaven, with Jesus, it won’t always be this way.  I don’t understand the mind of God, but on some level at least I know that by living this imperfect life and making these less than perfect and right choices, I am learning whatever the Lord is teaching me.  I believe it has to do with the scripture from Ezekiel 11, God is giving me  singleness of heart.  I am learning that nothing in this world or in this life is more important than Him and no one means more to me than Him. 

Jesus said, “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.  If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine.  If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”  Matthew 10:37-39

Scripture is full of apparent contradictions to our understanding of life.  But, that is how God has chosen to reveal His word and His will to us.  We can’t understand it fully, but we can decide to follow Him regardless.  He knows our heart, even if our brains try to ‘mastermind’ our lives.  (No pun intended.) 

Now I think I’m talking in circles and about things that I don’t fully comprehend.  I’ll type in the notes for today’s scripture so that maybe you can glean something after all.

Note on verses 27-38

The Sadducees, a group of conservative religious leaders, honored only the Pentateuch – Genesis through Deuteronomy – as Scripture.  They also did not believe in a resurrection of the dead because they could find no mention of it in those books.  The Sadducees decided to try their hand at tricking Jesus, so they brought him a question that had always stumped the Pharisees.  After addressing their question about marriage, Jesus answered their real question about the resurrection.  Basing his answer on the writings of Moses – an authority they respected – he upheld belief in the resurrection.

Note on verses 34, 35

Jesus’ statement does not mean that people will not recognize their partners in heaven.  It simply means that we must not think of heaven as an extension of life as we now know it.  Our relationships in this life are limited by time, death, and sin.  We don’t know everything about our resurrection life, but Jesus affirms that relationships will be different from what we are used to here and now.

Note on verses 37, 38

The Sadducees came to Jesus with a trick question.  Not believing in the resurrection, they wanted Jesus to say something they could refute.  Even so, Jesus did not ignore or belittle their question.  He answered it, and then he went beyond it to the real issue.  People may ask you tough religious questions, such as “How can a loving God allow people to starve?”  “If God knows what I’m going to do, do I have any free choice?”  If they do, follow Jesus’ example.  First, answer them to the best of your ability; then look for the real issue:  hurt over a personal tragedy, for example, or difficulty in making a decision.  Often the spoken question is only a test, not of your ability to answer hard questions, but of your willingness to listen and care.

Enough of my ramblings…

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

May God provide the increase.

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